Friendship in my Kitchen

My kitchen often reaches a state of mess, or perhaps I should state it another way. It attains a lived-in feel. As I write, I can hear my oldest and fourth and fifth oldest making carrot sticks and dip for a snack and the youngest is asking for samples. Occasionally his voice becomes high-pitched if the hand-outs do not come fast enough. With so many little ones and hands, messes are bound to happen. But all around the kitchen are little tokens from friends or from my children. Tokens of friendship and love, and they brighten up my kitchen even if there is a grand mess to greet my eyes. Messes can fortunately be cleaned up.

hay papertowel holder and flower stand

I used to have an issue with my paper towel roll, that I would tuck it into this drawer or that cupboard. It just didn’t look appealing to my eye, until I received this Hay paper towel holder from some friends for my birthday. Everyday I enjoy this little thing in my kitchen and move it around to where there are sticky little hands and bright eyes looking at me, or a spot of juice on the floor. Underneath the flower pot is a blue wooden flower stand made with love by one of my daughters at school. She had chosen the paint color and thought it might bring a pop of color.

japanese graterThis Japanese grater was a gift from a friend and a souvenir from the Helsinki design expo, Habitare. The idea has been brought from Japan, but the grater has been made locally about an hour and half away, in Porvoo. It is so pretty that it can hold a block of parmesean cheese at the table so that each may grate their own cheese on to their pasta or salad.

green tea marimekko teapotOne day a friend stopped over and brought me a little bag of the most heavenly tea. Many teas smell wonderful but often the flavor does not match up. This green tea with little pieces of dried strawberries tastes like it smell. It is from a little tea shop in Helsinki called The Ounce. And as the name suggests, they sell tea by the ounce which is certainly a rarity in Finland. The Marimekko teapot is one of my favorite little things and is perfect for brewing tea as it has a ceramic sift on the inside that is easy to remove and wash. The pot came to be ours by accident. We were buying a group Christmas present and I noticed that they had great sale at Marimekko in November that was held on only that particular weekend. So without consulting any of the others, I popped in and bought it. Well it came to be, that not everyone was as keen on the idea of a teapot and together we came up with another good idea. And so in the end, I had a teapot all wrapped up pretty perched on my wood-burning oven. I asked my husband, if it should be our Christmas present that year. Really I didn’t mind, as I was in love with the pot and had been eyeing for a few years already.

party cakes with chocolate garnish

Last weekend we celebrated my father-in-law’s sixtieth birthday. My mother-in-law had made the cakes, but asked for a little help with the garnishes. With a little help of a youtube video I decided on these chocolate circles.

circles for chcocolate garnishes

Lay a sheet of foil on your work surface. Next, using a piece of parchment paper, cut out circles of different size. Melt and temper your chocolate. I feel that tempering the chocolate is the most challenging part of the process. Basically tempering chocolate involves melting chocolate that is not higher in than 70% in cocoa solids, and then cooling it down while mixing or working the chocolate. Basically what happens is the fatty acid crystals separate and in the tempering process they brought back together giving them all of the wonderful qualities that are desired of chocolate. In Finland, I usually use the Fazer taloussuklaa or baking chocolate which has a cocoa solid percentage of about 55%. I’ve noticed that chocolates with a higher percentage do not behave the way I wish. I have used these two sites as my tempering guide when working with chocolate. Chocolate tempering guide by cookbook author David Lebovitz and Chocolate #101: Tempering at home, by the lovely Celia who also hosts In My Kitchen every month.

diy chocolate garnishesThen very carefully remove the paper and allow to harden.

drying chocolate garnishes

A true friend freely, advises justly, assists readily, adventures boldly, takes all patiently, defends courageously, and continues a friend unchangeably. –William Penn

Aggie & Ray's cousins etcTo end I thought to share a couple of keepsake photos that I have been looking at. The one above is of cousins having a good time. I wonder what the occasion might have been, might it have been a wedding? They certainly were dressed up splendid.

Elma & SofieAnd in many previous posts I have followed the travels and stories of great-aunt Elma. Perhaps some of the photos that have survived can be attributed to Sofie Wuollet who is standing next to Elma in the photo above. Sofie was a photographer capturing many images that had an every-day quality to them in a time where most photos are quite posed. But how lucky we are today to have these photos. Friendship carries, even if your kitchen is a mess.

“My best friend is a man who in wishing me well wishes it for my sake.” –Aristotle

This post is part of Celia’s monthly In My Kitchen series, check out her blog for links to kitchens around the world.



    1. I have been learning to accept that this is a stage in life, that mess just appears in a split second and if I am to do something else occasionally, I must just learn to bear it…as I know I would not be happy only cleaning all day everyday. 🙂

  1. The kitchen is the heart of the home, I am bothered by pristine spotless kitchens, they look good but are cold and lifeless. Your treasures are just beautiful and those chocolate circles make a lovely decoration and thank you for the tip!!

    1. I was actually just thinking along the same lines this past August. They have a new house expo here in Finland that is basically a residential area that has been built and is on show for about a month before the residents move in. While the houses are beautiful, they are missing the mark of life and the often creative interior design solutions that only come through living life and seeing what actually works in practice. I think it would be more interesting to visit the houses after the residents have been there for a year…they would have been turned into homes 🙂

  2. I can just imagine the chatter in the kitchen + the higher voice! So fun…the towel holder has personality, perfect. You always manage a neat trick for a cake or whatever. Lovely…

  3. It’s all these little details that make a home a home! Treasured objects with stories and memories of how they came to be part of our lives…sterile kitchens and homes might look ‘designer’ but they have no heart. Give me a lived in home, complete with a bit of dirt and mess, anytime!

  4. That was a fun story about how your favorite tea pot ended up in your home, Laila. Some things are meant to be… like kid-friendly kitchens, tolerable messes, and friends. The quotes and keepsake photos you included were like icing on the cake — no, make that chocolate circles on the cake! 🙂

    1. Thank you Kim 🙂 Yes, often those favorite little things have a story behind them. And I can’t say I mind the least that we decided on a different gift…actually I was quite pleased as I had bought several over the years for gifts for others and always would think that someday I will have to buy one for myself, but never actually getting around to it as it was not a complete necessity. 🙂

  5. Love the special blue flower pot stand your daughter made, a beautiful treasure to have in your kitchen. The old photos are lovely memories to have too. Kids love kitchens and especially when theres cake and chocolate. If I was a kid in your kitchen I know the first thing I would be tempted to pick of that lovely cake 🙂

    1. Those handmade thing made by kids with their bright shining eyes are really the most precious ❤ And it is true, children are eager helpers especially when it comes to sweets or chocolates 🙂

  6. A mess? I think it wonderful that your children feel free to get their own snacks. I bet your kitchen is the focal point of your home. I wouldn’t trade that for a spotless kitchen. Thanks for the links about tempering chocolate. I want to tackle that one day soon. 🙂

    1. Hi John! Yes, it seems that as soon as the kitchen gets cleaned up from one meal, the prep of another begins…definitely the heart of the home 🙂 And my oldest daughter, now in middle school, has cooking at school and has been experimenting a bit in the kitchen. 🙂

  7. I’m sure the little hands in your kitchen can make a mess but I’ve always enjoyed reading about how they like to participate with some of the cooking. Your kitchen and home always seems warm and welcoming.

    1. Those little hands would readily be involved prepping for every meal, sometimes if we’re in a hurry I must tell them no but often I’ll line them up with knives and cutting boards and they can practice cutting veggies under my supervision, or doing what they like to do best, licking the bowl after we’ve a batch of cookie dough 🙂

    1. Thank you Lindsey, I appreciate it! Blogs, youtube and instagram can be such an inspiration for ideas that can be turned to suit one’s own needs. And it certainly makes the world seem like a small place as we can share ideas half a globe away. 🙂

  8. Very enjoyable post, as always, Laila. I’m very slow in reading the past month’s posts due to being away. You have so much energy it amazes me!

    1. Thank Ardysez…and I hear you. I’ve been working my way back into blogging. Absolutely adore writing and reading blogs but sometimes life creates events that cause a distraction. But so nice to be back reading and writing.

  9. Lovely having a peek into your kitchen Laila. The Japanese grater is a work of art. Have never seen one like it before. I spy a giant pumpkin in the first photo – or is it a pumpkin-shaped decoration? Either way, it’s fantastic!
    I bought that *exact* teapot for my sister-in-law for her 50th birthday!! So beautiful! We have a Marimekko store here in Melbourne now – very dangerous 🙂
    Very impressive cake. I’m guessing it tasted amazing too, although it must’ve been almost a shame to cut into it.

    1. Yes Saskia, it truly is a pumpkin waiting to be roasted an then made into a purée for my holiday pumpkin pies that I crave every year. I may have to get a second pumpkin as I’m not sure if one pumpkin will do! I think I would like to have pumpkin pie at Christmas…and I’m afraid that that one pumpkin may not stretch that far 🙂
      I sometimes just have to walk past the Marimekko shop here, especially if I’m in a hurry…there are so many treats in there that with a time I love to stop and look at all of the fabrics and dish. I love dishes 😉 And I’m sure your sister-in-law loved her teapot, next time around you will have to get one for yourself!

  10. Laila, your tempered chocolate disks are so pretty, thank you for the shoutout! I adore the white teapot too, and I’m very curious about the Japanese grater – how does it work? Do you rub the nuts and cheese on the ridges? Hope you’re having a wonderful October – I was thinking the other day that the light is changing here, so it must be changing there for you too! 🙂

    1. Yes, our light is changing day by day! And soon the geese will be migrating. We can hear the cacophony across the road as they circle around and land to feed. The Japanese grater is very simple to use, just rub the nut, lemons, garlic, chocolate or cheese across the ridges. It works quite well on everything but very soft cheese. It also allows you to separate the garlic juice for example, as you can just tilt it a bit and pour the juice out.

    1. What a good idea, Gallivanta. No I havn’t printed them…I suppose I have trusted that they stay safe on the internet. But perhaps I should make a book of them for the children some day.

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